I got a goat.
She's the cutest thing. 3 years old, a Nubian, Saanen, Alpine cross, has milk, likes her belly rubbed, walks on a leash... sort of.
Why on earth would I do such a thing, you ask? Well, it all started when I learned to knit. I was reading up on the kinds of fibers there are, how much they cost, where they come from, etc. I had also just learned to dye fabric. So an idea sparked. "Hey! Wouldn't it be cool to learn to spin and dye my own yarn?"
I began to research Angora goats and their care. I figured mohair would be the way to go. It's shiny, warm, not too scratchy and I've always liked goats since I was a kid. While I was
researching, I noticed that Angora goats are kind of funny looking with their long curly coats. Not to mention once they're shaved; they look like trimmed poodles! But they can't help it, right?
I looked up goat breeders and the prices for a full blooded Angora goat is not what I expected. I was looking and expecting for around $75 or less. Like the other random goats I've seen in the paper. I was finding them for as much as $500! So, my goat search was put on hold for a while.
Last October I made the difficult decision to sell one of my 2 horses. It was difficult because I didn't NEED to sell him, and he was the best mannered horse... most of the time. But, circumstances did make it necessary for Joker to find a new home that was a better fit for him.
That left Spirit alone and lonely. She's been alone for almost a year now and seems quite content most of the time. She gets lots of attention from the kids and me. But it's not the same as having her herd with her all the time. Some one to bat flies with, someone to scratch itchy spots with while lounging under a tree in the lazy part of the day. So, I thought about goats again.
Goats have historically been kept with horses as companions. They actually will form quite strong bonds. But I couldn't bring myself to pay extravagant amounts for a goat. I'm not sure why I'll pay thousands for a horse that will not bring any physical value to the household, but not a goat who would. It really isn't logical.
Then I found a book called Goat Song by Brad Kessler at the library. It's a memoir about a change in lifestyle from New York writer to Virginia goatherd. I fell in love with his milk goats. I fell in love with the idea of providing sustenance to my family by caring for and being cared for by a goat. Not to mention that dairy goats are much more normal looking than Angoras!
So, I made half hearted calls to people in the paper advertising goats for sale. I bookmarked Craigslist ads but never replied. I hadn't actually been around goats for a very long time and was a bit nervous about this new creature coming to live with me. Every kind of animal has it's own quirks and characteristics to get used to. I know horses, dogs, cats, iguanas, chickens, lots of animals! Goats have always been someone else's animals, I've never had to deal with the day to day of goat care or goat behavioral issues (of which I'd heard a few stories). And would I really be up to milking a goat? Daily?
This last weekend was the last weekend of the Western Montana Fair here in Missoula. Of course we had to go and ride some rides, eat some good tasting bad food, watch the rodeo, bet on horse racing, and get our eardrums burst by the demolition derby. And the animals. I have to go through the animal barn.
There were goats in the animal barn. About 20 of them. And some of them had for sale signs on their pens. All of them were so friendly. A few were practically climbing the gates to get scratched behind the ears. One little floppy eared black goat was batting her eyelashes and being coy, then she'd lay her head on you when you got close. She was not for sale. I'd have put her in my pocket and run off with her if no one was looking!
I had a conversation with the mother of a 4H family about their goats and she told me all about them. I pet all the curious faces and scratched behind all the horn bumps.
I asked her if any of hers were for sale. Yes, 2 were. A milk goat named Cutie Pie and a yearling boy named Sarge. I already knew I didn't want a male if it wasn't castrated. They can be pretty horny, nasty buggers and I just don't want to deal with that! How much was the girl? $35. She's "just a crossbred" so she's worth much less. Oh, my. I think I found myself a goat, I thought to myself. Before I really thought too much about the decision I wrote a check.
I made arrangements to pick her up, we swapped phone numbers, and I was on my way to find my husband to tell him what I'd done. Luckily, my husband is an understanding guy.
The nice 4H mom showed me how to milk her when I came to pick her up. I'm not really very smooth at it yet, but I'm getting better.
Cupie (short for Cutie Pie) has been here for only 4 days but already I think she's part of the family. Spirit is certainly enamored of her. She's been trying to groom her, but Cupie is still a bit overwhelmed by the size of her new roommate.
So, I guess spinning mohair isn't going to happen right now. That's ok. I just have to learn how to make cheese.